Archive for April, 2007


Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Today’s the anniversary of a bunch of cool and amazing things:

  • Thor Heyerdahl began his act of manliness
  • The first night organized baseball game was played
  • A spectacular airframe failure
  • The first space tourist went up
  • James Doohan was buried in space

It’s also the birthday of Lee Falk, Ferruccio Lamborghini, Harper Lee, Carolyn Jones, Saddam Hussein, Terry Pratchett, Jay Leno, Kari Whurer, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Alba, and me.

Wikipedia doesn’t mention that last one.

It’s the first birthday in a while that’s had any kind of real implications. I can’t stand an hour and a half at Special Training any more and I have to get flight physicals more often. I can still drink, be sued, and vote, though.

Brenda took me to lunch and I got a haircut.

What year is it?

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

How can this be a news story in 2007?  I’ve been reading Taylor Branch’s spectacular Martin Luther King, Jr. biography and shiddering at the closeness of all that repression, and then I see that a town in Georgia has finally let Black people come to a dance.  Shining City on the Hill.

Router changes

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Of interest to no one but me, I’m sure, but I’ve tweaked my OpenWRT configuration to do a couple new things.

  • The router now runs ntpd constantly rather than just synching the time at boot up.
  • The router now DHCPs the PXE parameters to the mp3 player I’m building. I had trouble with getting this working earlier and I’ve solved my condiguration problems. Running 2 DHCP daemons was messy and I’m happy to no longer need to.

More puttin’-’em-in-the-longbox reviews

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

As the books go into the vaults, a couple notes:

  • Moon Knight #9 (Huston, Suayan, D’Armata): Man do I want to like this. I was a fan of the Moench/Sienkiewicz Moon Knight, and I know that the character has great potential to explore non-powered vigilante stories that can’t be done with characters that, oh, sell books – you know Batman, Captain America, those guys. Huston seems not to realize that because this is almost certainly an impulse buy only book that you’ve got to grab readers amazingly quickly and tease them with enough continuity to keep them coming back. I do think that’s what he’s trying to do, but I think it works better with complete stories. The art’s a little muddy for me, and I’m having some trouble following who’s who as well. But I keep hoping it’ll grow on me.
  • Love and Rockets #9 (Los Bros. Hernandez) I’ve read some magical realism since I’ve been reading Love and Rockets, and I understand a little better what Beto is up to in his “Julio’s Day” stories. I still don’t enjoy them much, but I understand them better. I find those stories offputting just by style. They’re not for me, but as far as I can tell, well executed and certainly nicely drawn. Xamie, on the other hand, is always enjoyable to me. I love his clean art, and even stories where little happens have their moments. I’ll admit that I enjoy getting a hold of a collection and taking big bites, but I can live with the nibbles that come out in the monthlies. These stories are catching up with friends.
  • The Spirit #5 (Cooke, Bone, Stewart) No, I don’t know what happened to #4. I’m looking. (I do know, it sold out at Hi De Ho and wasn’t on my pull list; I’ve fixed half that problem and expect to fix the other shortly). These guys know how to do the episodic thing right to grab new readers. The Mortez subplot from #3 is still cooking in the background, but we spend this issue meeting the new Mr. Carrion and Julia and enjoying a Spirit-based advertisement parody (Manga-styled). All nice nods to Eisner’s Spirit, and Cooke, Bone and Stewart make it fun and engaging for new readers. And there’s another issue out that I haven’t read and should be able to lay hands on shortly. This comic is a must.

So Long Robert N. Buck

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Robert Buck was a well respected writer on aviation weather and author of many books.  He passed away early this month.  AOPA has a short obituary.

Comics Capsules

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

As I’m sitting down to file the comics I’ve bought this week, I thought it might be worthwhile to throw up some capsule reviews.  From least enjoyable to most:

  •  Sandman Mystery Theater 5 of 5 (John Ney Rieber & Eric Nguyen)
    • This series seems to be setting the stage for a new Sandman series.  I was a big fan of Wagner and Seagle’s Sandman Mystery Theater and the book being on my pull list got this pulled for me.  I wasn’t really blown away.  The characters didn’t compel me particularly strongly and the art was muddy in places that made it difficult to follow the action.  It was atmospheric though. Wagner and Seagle’s work took a while to grow on me too.  Origins are always difficult to get right.  I’d stick around for another series, probably.
  • Jonah Hex #18 (Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Val Semieks)
    • Heh.  Hex.  Well, it’s not Lansdale/Truman, but I’ve been enjoying this incarnation of Jonah Hex.  Not undying literature, but good pulp western fun with an almost completely irredeemable “hero.”  Almost always worth it, with a few gems.  This one was worth it.
  • The Spirit (Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone & Dave Stewart)
    • I’ve been enjoying Cooke and company’s take on The Spirit.  I’m a little surprised by that.  I hold The Spirit in high regard and I’d be pretty perturbed to see a bad version on the shelves.  This team’s doing a good job keeping the spirit of the classic stories without being tied to the history slavishly.  They’ve moved the characters into the 21st century but kept their heart.  This issue seems to be the beginning of moving the characters along a real dramatic arc, where the first two (an introductory and fairly generic Spirit tale and a P’gell rewrite) were more taking them out for a spin to make sure they handled OK.  It’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain their sure hand as they set out to take more ownership of the story.
  • All Star Superman #7 (Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly)
    • For my money, All-Star Superman has done a great job at capturing the feel of Silver Age Superman stories without making you feel stupid for reading them.  Considering how goofy some of those stories are, this is a feat in itself.  Beyond just working the plot kinks and restoring a sense of wonder for the universe that Superman inhabits, Morrison and Quietly have been showing that these characters deserve to be the enduring touchstones they are.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Jimmy Olsen portrayed as someone who deserves to be “Superman’s Pal” because he’s gutsy, competent, and selflessly brave rather than the relation being deus ex machina.  Now, that issue wasn’t this issue, which is one of the weaker ones of the run – I’ve never liked Bizarro.  Still the series is fantastic.  Worth riding the dip.  The trade hardback for the first 6 issues is out this week as well.  Treat yourself.
  • Fell #8 (Warren Ellis, Ben Templesmith)
    • Yum, Fell.  Ellis and Templesmith’s regular trip to the PD of the worst place on Earth is as good as usual.  The series is a series of one-off books with a very loose continuity, much more Dragnet than Hill Street Blues, but each story has some wonderful hook.  Intended as a simple comic for people who just want a good story and don’t want to follow any kind of continuity, it delivers a pop every issue.  And, as one of my comic shop guys said – it’s cheaper than anything on the shelf with no ads.  Buy it.  (Not for kids, though)

Review of The Best American Science Writing 2006

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

My review of The Best American Science Writing 2006 is up in Bell, Book and Candle.

Bees: The Rest of the Story

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

A couple weeks ago I posted about the bees that seemed to be setting up shop at my local airport. Last Thursday, 29 Mar, I was taking a friend up for a tour of LA and heard and saw more.

First, when we got there the formerly bee-covered Cirrus was gone. We were told that the owner had ripped the cover off – bees and all – fired up the engine and gone to another airport. This left a few perturbed bees running around SMO, but though we were around for a while, none of them bothered us. They tell me that most of the bees in LA county are africanized, so that’s pretty good luck.

Other than coming back and finding that the bees had taken my parking space that was my whole involvement. But the story I heard was that our friend with the bee-covered plane had proceeded out to his destination and only found a few intrepid bees still gripping his aircraft on arrival. On departure to return to SMO, a few more wayward bees had appeared. When he returned to the ramp, however, the remaining local bees began returning to the plane and re-establishing the clump.

After the clump began re-forming they summoned a beekeeper who, I’m told, vacuumed them up – queen and all – and there’s been peace in the valley since then.

I would have loved to see the little buggers clomp back on to the plane on return, though.

Great space shuttle photo

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Warren Ellis posted an amazing shot of Atlantis’s departure. Actual picture courtesy of NASA, in more ways than one.